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Report: Benchmarking Online Advocacy Against Major Non-Profits

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, May 19 2009

The folks over at M+R Strategic Services and NTEN surveyed 32 big name non-profit organizations on their online advocacy and fundraising campaigns in 2007 and 2008. They put what they learned into a report. This is your chance to compare how your organization measures up against the big kids like the Smithsonian, Planned Parenthood, Habitat for Humanity, and the Human Rights Campaign. These days, it can be tough for non-profits to find loose dollars floating around, so the report should provide some guidance on where and how to look. Some of the key findings, directly from the report:

  • Email open and click-through rates fell from 2007 to 2008, while response rates remained relatively steady. Open rates declined from 17 to 16 percent, and click-through rates have declined nearly a half of a percent, to 2.4 percent. These declines are less pronounced than the downward trends found in previous studies.
  • The average subscriber on each email list received about 3.5 messages per month. This was unchanged from 2007 to 2008.
  • In our sample, the number of online gifts increased by 43 percent over 2007, while the total dollars raised online increased by only 26 percent. The response rate for fundraising messages held steady at 0.12 percent across all sectors.
  • The increase in the number of gifts helped offset revenue lost from a decline in average gifts. Average gift size across all participating organizations was $71, down $15 from the previous year. This decline was most pronounced in the fourth quarter of 2008.
  • Fundraising emails sent to previous donors received response rates more than three times as high as those sent to non-donors.
  • Email lists continue to grow, though more slowly every year: growth was at 17 percent in 2008, down from 19 percent in 2007 and 21 percent in 2006.
  • 19 percent of email addresses “went bad” annually, due to bouncing or unsubscribes -- the same as in 2007.
  • For most organizations, almost one-third of all online actions are taken by the most active subscribers -- just seven percent of the list.
  • Alerts sent to previous action-takers on a given issue received response rates three times higher than those sent to the full file.

You can get your copy of the study here.